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Battles With Bits of Rubber

This podcast is a joint venture with Stuart Bray and Todd Debreceni. It's all about the making of stuff for makeup effects and prosthetics. Todd is author of 'Special Makeup Effects For Stage And Screen', what many consider to be the modern makeup FX bible. Stuart Bray is a working makeup FX artist with many years experienc. Credits include 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Dr Who' and more recently 'Game of Thrones'. If you have any FX questions you would like to see made into a featured blog post, then get in touch: stuartandtodd@gmail.com
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Now displaying: 2019
Feb 27, 2019

In this podcast we talk about art, what it means to be an artist, why we do it, and the challenges we face in trying to make a living doing this.

This was mostly brought about because of the fantastic conversation I had with my first ever boss when I started working in effects in 1994.

Pauline and business partner, Nik Williams run Animated Extras, an effects company specialising in prosthetics, animatronics, puppets, creature suits, fake bodies and many animals from elephants, bats, sharks...you name it. In their own words...

"From singing sloths to the putrefying corpses of Hollywood A-listers, Animated Extras have been creating all kinds of weird and wonderful things for the Film, TV, and advertising industry since 1986."

Pauline was the first person I ever saw take a lump of clay and make it look like a real person when she made a fake head of Michael Gambon for the film 'Mary Reilly'.

It was to me complete and total magic, and it was an absolute delight and honour to sit with her and talk frankly about the task of sculpting. We recorded this interview at Animated Extras workshop in Shepperton Studios.

Things we cover in the chat include:

  • Finite existence
  • Having a brief set by industry v personal jobs
  • Working in bronze
  • Scans v sculpt and the life looks fake but feels real etc.
  • Types of sculpting and sculptors
  • Get the feel early rather than struggle on with wrong and try and make it right.
  • Watching different sculptors work when you run a company.
  • Photography

 

 

 

The Three Sisters Pauline sculpted in Monster Clay before being cast in bronze. (Pauline hated plastilines before, so this was a significant development)


Todd and I get stuck into some deep dives about art, and how it's a joy to have a craft but also a largely unappreciated career path. It doesn't save lives or risk that of the artist by putting them in harm's way.

It often serves the artist more than the community around it, and may be seen as a selfish, luxury position and an unnecessary way to spend a life.

See what you think and maybe drop us a line at stuartandtodd@gmail.com with your thoughts and experiences about that.

I mention a great podcast I listened to by Seth Godin, (the podcast is called 'Akimbo and this was from series 2, episode 9 called 'Distribution and cultural destiny') and in it he talks about how the distribution of media changed the media it distributed.

From cinemas, to TV, to Home Vidoe, DVD and now streaming, each new development has reduced costs and democratised the medium. Such access means more making and consumption, but often this can also mean a watering down of quality.

Is that a fair trade off or an inevitable side effect? See what you think, I'd reccommend it.

Seth is a very influential thinker and I listen to almost everything he puts out. Listen here

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Lastly, here is the letter to Agnes De Mille Todd mentioned.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is ever pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
-Martha Graham

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We'd appreciate it if you'd share this podcast with friends or colleagues who you think would get a kick out of it.

Thank you for sticking with us!

-Stuart & Todd

Jan 23, 2019

Richard Redlefsen is someone I saw for the first time a few years back at the UMAE where he was applying his demo makeup on the PPI stand.

What was of note for me was how particular and precise everything was. Care was taken at every turn, and it struck me that the amount of effort that takes must come from a deep well.

So it was a great pleasure to sit and chat with the man himself, and I could ask if he thought of this about himself and if we could pick apart where that comes from. As you'll hear, Richard had a career as a dancer before he embarked on makeup, and his training was thorough. I think that experience and also working for a makeup brand such as LancĂ´me meant his work doesn't start and stop with bits of rubber!

Follow Richard on his Instagram to see just how versatile this chap is.


Check out a brief selection of the range Richard covers.

A Devil mask sculpt completed recently for Immortal Masks.

 

Claudia Alta (Lady 'Bird' Johnson) wrap-around prosthetic sculpt ready to mould.

 

Zombie makeup on Eva Minaeva for TUSH magazine.

 

Phantom makeup from Monsterpalooza 2016.

 

A 1920s beauty makeup on Sarah Sokolovic from the NBC show Timeless. Sarah plays Grace Humiston (the first female Special Assistant United States Attorney). Makeup was usually done by Peter DeOliveira, and Richard filled in on this day. It's quite a responsibility to fill in seamlessly on a show with established looks.

 

Another beauty makeup on Bianca Lopez from NBC show Timeless. Makeup by Richard Redlefsen. Debbie Zoller makeup dept head.


We are on the lookout for your stories of people wanted way too much of something for a whole lot of nothing.

We chat about a Facebook post which got a lot of people's back up, as a freelancer or anyone with a creative spark, you may have been approached to do something which gradually expands into a lot of somethings, and payment is strangely far from the table.

Email us with your stories, screenshots or anything regarding that. We'd love to do a post focussing on that and read some of the best ones out, and formulate an appropriate response to arm you if you find yourself in that position of feeling bad for wanting fair compensation.

Email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Facebook page at Battles With Bits Of Rubber

If you enjoy this, PLEASE help us grow by telling someone about us and posting on social media!

We had a lovely message from Charlotte Annice Spruch who mentioned the formula for finding your worth from a few episodes back on a Facebook group. Cheers Charlotte!

That kind of sharing is what helps us grow, and we get heard by the people who would be glad to find us!

Till next time!

- Stuart & Todd

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